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By Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza, Reporter

Hunger eases in Q4, full-year 2015

Posted on January 11, 2016

FEWER Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger last quarter, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said in a report, helping to bring the full-year average rate to its lowest point in 11 years in 2015.

Results of Dec. 5-8 survey among 1,200 adults nationwide -- with sampling error margins of ±3 points for national percentages and ±6 points each for Metro Manila, “Balance Luzon,” the Visayas and Mindanao -- bared drops in Metro Manila, in Luzon areas outside the national capital and in Mindanao that offset a slight increase in the Visayas.

The latest survey found 11.7% of respondents, equivalent to an estimated 2.6 million families, saying they experienced having had nothing to eat at least once in the past three months, a four-point drop from 15.7% -- equivalent to 3.5 million families -- recorded in September last year.

SWS also noted that 2015’s average hunger rate of 13.4% is 4.9 points below the 2014 average of 18.3% and was the lowest annual average hunger rate since 2004’s 11.8% average.

Overall hunger last quarter consisted of:

• the 8.9%, or an estimated two million families, who experienced “moderate hunger” -- or lacked food to eat “only once” or “a few times” in the last three months -- 5.2 points down from September’s 14.1% that was equivalent to 3.1 million families; and

• the 2.8%, equivalent to 621,000 families, who experienced “severe hunger” -- or had nothing to eat “often” or “always” in the last three months -- 1.2 points more than September’s 1.6%, or about 361,000 families.

Last week, the SWS noted that self-rated poverty among Filipino families steadied at 50% last quarter, similar to the 50% in the September survey, while those who rated themselves poor in terms of food -- labelled the “food-poor” -- declined by two points to 33% from 35% previously. “The four-point fall in hunger rate amid the steady self-rated poor and the two-point decline in self-rated food-poor proportions, between September and December 2015, was due to falling hunger among both the poor and the ‘not poor/on the borderline’,” according to the SWS’ latest report.

It noted that, from September to December, overall hunger (“moderate” plus “severe”) fell by 6.5 points among the self-rated poor, to 14.4% from 20.9% and eased by 1.6 points among the “not poor/on the borderline” segment to 9.0% from 10.6%.

SWS also noted that hunger fell by 5.2 points among the self-rated “food-poor” to 19.4% from 24.6% and eased by three points among the “not food-poor/food-borderline” to 7.9% from 10.9%.

“At any one point in time, hunger among the self-rated food-poor is always greater than hunger among the self-rated poor,” SWS noted.

By geographical location, hunger eased in all areas, except the Visayas, to post:

• 17% in Metro Manila, equivalent to some 513,000 families, 1.3 points below September’s 18.3% (an estimated 553,000 families). The national capital’s 16.6% average last year was just 0.6 of a point more than 2014’s average that, in turn, was equal of 2006’s rate and the lowest since 2005’s 14.4% average.

• 9.7% in “Balance Luzon” (equal to June 2011’s rate and the lowest since December 2004’s 9.0%), or about 952,000 families, that was five points down from September’s 14.7% (1.4 million families). The 2015 average hunger rate for this area is 12.4%, 6.9 points below the 19.3% average of 2014 and the lowest since 2004’s 9.4%.

• 13% in Mindanao (equal to September 2011 and the lowest since February 2009’s 11.7%), or 658,000 families, that was down 8.7 down points from September’s 21.7% (1.1 million families). Mindanao’s 2015 average hunger rate of 15.8% is 3.4 points below the 19.2% average of 2014 and the lowest since 2005’s 13.3%.

On the other hand, hunger in the Visayas edged up two points to 11.3% or an estimated 484,000 families from September’s 9.3% (399,000 families). Still, the 2015 average Visayas Hunger rate of 10.8% is 5.8 points below the 16.6% average of 2014 and is the lowest since 2003’s 4.5%.

Sought for comment, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. said via text: “Government is determined to sustain the gains achieved in terms of addressing poverty and hunger. That is why the biggest slice of the 2016 budget was allotted to social protection and human development.”

According to the Department of Budget and Management, social services account for P1.106 trillion or 36.8% of the P3.002-trillion 2016 budget.

Mr. Coloma cited the Aquino administration’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program conditional cash transfer, as well as skills training that could have helped reduce the number of Filipino families experiencing involuntary hunger.

In a separate text message, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines Spokesman Alan A. Tanjusay said the survey results “could mean the Aquino administration’s efforts to provide food for families are making a modest impact.”

“But the impact is not so significant because it’s still a sizable number of families.”

Mr. Tanjusay said the government should also “make an impact” in terms of the quality of food available.

“These is where the big challenge is: providing quality food for Filipinos.”

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